Fast & Furious racing debuts

By Catherine Pattison on Sat, 7 Oct 2017

Southern race drivers will be the first to trial Highlands Motorsport Park and Hampton Downs owner Tony Quinn's new concept - Fast & Furious Racing.
Quinn has dubbed it motorsport's version of rugby sevens and Twenty/20 cricket and its goal is to deliver action-packed races that give spectators and drivers more bang for their buck.

The 3x3 format will see cars line up on the grid for the race start as per usual. The twist is that after three laps, the cars will come together behind a safety car for a rolling restart and another three-lap sprint to the finish line.

Quinn is testing it in the opening round of the sprint series at the Cromwell circuit today and then Fast & Furious Racing will be officially launched at the Hampton Downs 500 on October 28-29.

At the northern track there will be four Fast & Furious 3x3 races over the weekend, with the fastest qualifiers starting at the front of the field in race one. A reverse grid will be used to determine the starting order in races two and four, while the driver's combined times will decide who starts on pole for race three. Competitors will score points based on where they finish in each of the four races.

Quinn came up with the concept after he was left unimpressed with the spectator experience at a major New Zealand motorsport meet recently, describing the procession-like race as ‘‘absolutely deplorable''.

‘‘A safety car came out at one stage and everyone got excited for a lap or two so the only exciting bits of the race were the start and the safety car. That's where the idea for Fast & Furious Racing came from,'' Quinn said.

He has even got a copyright green light from the same-named movie franchise, although efforts to get one of its stars, actor Vin Diesel, to New Zealand to launch Fast & Furious Racing did not pan out. Points for trying, Tony.

The new race format is open to all categories of race car, provided they have a full roll cage and Motor Sport New Zealand logbook. Adding to the appeal is that all entrants could win a new car, which will be part of an overall prize pool of $50,000.

After the Hampton Downs endurance race, Quinn will give Fast & Furious Racing a go at Mad Mike's Summer Bash on December 9. He was typically philosophical about the outcome.

‘‘If it doesn't work everyone will tell me it was a silly idea and it was never going to work. If it does work, everyone will copy it.''

Highlands hot-lap driver and mechanic Brendon Leitch has been racing in the United States' FIA Formula Four USA Championship this year, but will compete closer to home next year in the Toyota Racing Series (TRS).

Leitch is a three-season TRS competitor and finished third overall in 2016. He believes that competing in this hot-bed of young international single-seater talent has been a huge asset to his developing career.

In a fortnight, he will race in the final F4 round at Texas' Circuit of the Americas as a supporting race for the F1 cars.

Turning to gravel events, the penultimate round of the New Zealand Rally Championship is being held around Waitomo next Saturday. Dunedin's Rhys Gardner is in with a title chance, sitting in fourth on the points table.

Catherine Pattison